TEXARKANA, Texas —This Saturday, Texarkana will serve as home base for what's billed as the largest all-female motorcycle parade in the country.
Ladies in Leather Parade & Rally roars to life Friday and Saturday at the Texarkana Convention Center with motorcycles, vendors, workshops, live music and plenty more. Events were scheduled to kick off Thursday and run through a Sunday brunch, bringing hundreds of women bikers to town.
"We are the largest traveling all-female motorcycle parade in the United States," Cohen said. The schedule kicked off Thursday with an early bird social event at Texarkana Harley Davidson, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a food truck, deejay and check-in. Then the event starts full force on Friday.
"Our vendors open at 11 a.m. We have a full menu scheduled of speakers, workshops, classes," Cohen said. That includes a female self-defense class led by a woman instructor. There's a bladesmithing demonstration, too, and the Wrenching with Rocky workshop.
"We've got a biker comedy hypnotist that will perform both nights," Cohen said. "He's a biker, he's a comedian and he's a hypnotist."
Deejay dance parties happen both Friday and Saturday nights with DJ Hollygrove on Saturday, DJ Fabienne on Friday. Zumba classes start both mornings. The schedule page at the event website maps out all the action hour by hour. It's packed.
The parade starts at the convention center and travels roughly 10 miles at a speed of about 30 mph, she said. She suspects traveling the loop will take about 30 minutes. They'd love to see people come out to watch.
While Cohen and the organization are based in Southeast Texas, they have participants who hail from all over. She believes attendees will come from at least 25 states.
"We have meet and greets. We meet up at least once a month at a different location just for social time sometimes every other month," Cohen said. The big rally itself has a different location annually. "We're anticipating about 500 or more motorcycles in the parade," she said.
Originally, this parade and rally started as an attempt, under another name in 2016, to break a world record for most women on motorcycles at one time in one place. "A rally formed around that attempt," Cohen explained. It didn't succeed at breaking the record, but eventually she reworked it and re-branded it as a way to empower women riders.
"Our goal is to educate and empower lady riders. We're living in the golden age for women on motorcycles," Cohen said. Women now account for more than 20 percent of motorcycle ownership population, which more than doubled in the last decade, she explained.
"Ten years ago we were barely a blip on the map," Cohen said. They want manufacturers and designers to notice the purchasing power women have.
She's seen female riders from their 20s to their 80s participate. Women riding motorcycles has found the mainstream and become accepted, she says. She grew up riding motorcycles with her family and has had her own bike for 10 years.
"We've got women representing over 25 states that I know for sure," Cohen said. They ride down from Michigan, Massachusetts and other faraway locations.
Women who want to register can do so at the gate or online. There's a chance to participate with a single-day fee. The event and organization also have Facebook pages, and men are also welcome to attend.
On Friday and Saturday, check out the Food Truck Festival, which happens outside at the convention center.
(For more information and registration, visit ladiesinleatherparade.com or Facebook.com/ladiesinleatherparade.)